BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
The Wolves trip to the state finals was halted in the seventh inning against Hartland in the MHSAA Division 1 Softball Quarterfinals on June 12.
The Clarkston Varsity Softball team led going into the bottom of the final inning before the Eagles scored three runs to win, 3-2.
“The girls played really good for six innings,” said Don Peters, head coach. “The level of play was really good. Then, we just had a bad inning. I am proud of them. They battled every minute for the 42 games we played this year. They have great attitudes and they stayed in that game. Hartland made some plays and got the better of us.”
Clarkston opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning and then had another run in the sixth inning.
Paige Blevins and Hannah Chadwell each had one RBI each. Olivia Warrington pitched for 6.1 innings.
Being in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year will help the returners for next year.
“It’s big,” said Peters. “The more you experience, the more focused the play and more able to close it out. When they are that close it’s going to be in the back of their minds, maybe dig down a little bit deeper, and close it out. The more experience you have with that the more mentally you can prepare, the more physically you can prepare, and all those kind of things.”
He added that’s the upside of losing, players work a little bit harder, smarter and are more prepared for the same kind of situations.
“These girls will do that – you can’t outwork them,” Peters said.
The Wolves finished the season with an overall record of 39-3 and being ranked No. 1 in the state for Division 1.
“It’s amazing,” said Peters. “We played tough competition and tough games. More than not, came out on top. We grew as a team. Our individuals grew. They became better players. All 16 girls gelled – I am prouder of that than the record. They played together as a team.”
The girls not only played together as a team but they also had fun. Either dancing on the field before an inning or in the dugout during hitting as they cheered for each other.
“When they work out, practice or when they play they have a lot of fun,” Peters smiled. “It’s been a great experience for me as a coach because they just enjoy each other. They enjoy the game. It might seem corny but they like representing Clarkston sports especially Clarkston female sports.”
He added he tips his hat off to captains Hannah Cady, Chadwell and Blevins.
“They just became better and better leaders as the season progressed. They actually were outstanding leaders and kept the chemistry together which is something special. One of the things I reflect back on as a coach is really how much they grew as individuals in their roles as leaders and how well they worked,” Peters said.
The team graduated three seniors – Blevins, Chadwell and Olivia Gilmore.
Peters added the three grew during their four years and it helped for the others to see it.
“The girls got to see as they grow as a player and as a leader, how you grow the softball intelligence and saw their work ethic. They are just a great example,” he said. “Olivia wasn’t a captain but she led anyways. She has such a neat and pleasant personality. She motivated in her own way. You don’t have to have a ‘C’ next to your name to be a leader.”